Your body is under attack -- but you probably don't even realize it.
You have no symptoms. You feel fine. Everything seems to be operating normally. So what's the problem?
Inflammation. It's a normal process that is designed to help your
body recover, which causes the occasional ache or pain. In small doses,
this is fine. But if you're constantly putting your body under stress
--whether from work, illness, or even exercise -- your body flips into
protection mode. The inflammation that's meant to protect you instead
causes your body to fight against itself. The system breaks down, and
you become more vulnerable to injury or even disease.
But the process of healing your body can be improved with several
small, simple changes. For example, many foods contain anti-inflammatory
compounds that can alleviate pain and swelling, and help protect your
body. We asked Amanda Carlson-Phillips, the vice president of Nutrition
and Research at Athelete's Performance, which foods provided the most powerful boost to your body's ability to regulate and reduce inflammation. Here are her top 10: Cinnamon
Once considered more precious than gold, cinnamon is one of the world's
oldest and most coveted spices. Research has shown that cinnamon not
only reduces inflammation but also fights bacteria, assists with blood sugar control, and enhances brain function. Sprinkle cinnamon over yogurt, cereal, or oatmeal or add it to a smoothie or a glass of low-fat milk.
This flavorful root is available all year and used in everything from
soda to stir-fries. Ginger contains several anti-inflammatory compounds
called gingerols, which may relieve joint pain, prevent free radical
damage, protect against colorectal cancer, and increase immunity. Ginger
is also a natural anti-emetic, often used to alleviate motion sickness
and morning sickness. Steep a couple of slices of ginger in hot water
for ginger tea or blend it with soy sauce to top a stir-fried dish. Onions
Onions are packed with sulfur-containing containing compounds, which are
responsible for their pungent odor and associated with improved health.
These widely-used and versatile vegetables are believed to inhibit
inflammation and linked to everything from cholesterol reduction to cancer prevention. Try using onions as a base for soups, sauces and stir-fries. Other
foods with the same benefits include garlic, leeks, and chives. Tart Cherries
One of the richest known sources of antioxidants ,,
tart cherries are an anti-inflammatory powerhouse. New research
suggests that tart cherries offer pain relief from gout and arthritis,
reduce exercise-induced joint and muscle pain, lower cholesterol, and
improve inflammatory markers. Drink a glass of tart cherry juice in the
morning with breakfast or combine dried tart cherries with nuts for a
Walnuts are one of the healthiest nuts you can eat. They're loaded with anti-inflammatory, heart healthy omega 3 fatty acids and provide more antioxidants than Brazil nuts, pistachios, pecans,
peanuts, almonds, macadamias, cashews, and hazelnuts. Walnuts are also a
great source of protein and fiber. Top yogurt or salad with a handful
of walnuts or eat raw walnuts as a snack.
A mustard-yellow spice from Asia, turmeric is a spice often used in
yellow curry. It gets its coloring from a compound called curcumin. The
University of Maryland Medical Center found that curcumin can help to
improve chronic pain by suppressing inflammatory chemicals in the body.
Make a homemade curry with turmeric or mix it into other recipes once or
twice a week. Pineapple
This tropical yellow fruit contains the enzyme bromelain, which is
helpful in treating muscle injuries like sprains and strains. According
to a study in the journal Inflammatory Bowel Disease, this enzyme may
also help to improve digestion along
with aches and pains associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Add
pineapple to a smoothie or salad to help improve your body's tweaks and
Flaxseed is packed with omega-3 fatty acids which can help to reduce
inflammation in the body. The Harvard School of Public Health reports
that omega-3 found in flaxseed may help in blocking pro-inflammatory
agents. Grind flaxseed to release the oils, and then add a spoonful of
it to your salad, oatmeal, or yogurt. For more omega-3-rich foods with
anti-inflammatory benefits, eat soybeans, extra-virgin olive oil, and
fatty fish like salmon and tuna. Carrots
Colorful orange carrots are rich in carotenoids, a group of phytochemicals known
to help protect cells from free radicals and boost immunity. They also
help regulate inflammation, according to the University of Rochester
Medical Center. Add carrots to your salad or cook them as a side dish
for any meal. Other carotenoid-rich foods include apricots, tomatoes,
sweet potatoes, squash, and pumpkin. Dark, Leafy Greens
Dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale are packed with flavanoids,
a phytonutrient that boost heart health and may help ward off cancer.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, flavonoid-rich foods may also
reduce inflammation in the brain, possibly slowing the progression of
Alzheimer's disease. Eat a spinach salad a few days a week for a
powerful punch of flavonoids. Other good sources are kale, soybeans,
berries, tea, or even a glass of wine.